London Stock Exchange Makes Fresh African Move

PRETORIA – The London Stock Exchange (LSE) has rolled out an offensive to increase the number of African counters in the coming year.

It has already made inroads into its African ambition in the past few months, boosted by excursions in Kenya and South Africa, according to Ibukun Adebayo, director of emerging markets and international markets at the global bourse.

Global Finance says the LSE is determined to increase its current market capitalisation from African counters to 165 billion pounds, as listings rise from the current 115.

“We see opportunity for growth across a number of sectors. London Stock Exchange has a strong history of supporting African companies from the oil and gas, and mining sector. We are seeing a wave of ‘green’ businesses gain traction across Africa, and this may be an area of growth in future,” says Adebayo.

“At LSEG, we are determined to help realise that potential. From the building of the great US railways in the 19th century, to global oil and gas exploration in the 20th century, to creating a worldwide low-carbon economy today, we have always been at the forefront of financing the great global economic shifts of the day. Sitting at the heart of global financial markets, LSEG has a connection with Africa stretching back to the 1930s,” says David Schwimmer, CEO of LSE.

It will be a huge leap forward for African companies, which will see a rise in capital, which the continent desperately needs to rebuild its crumbling infrastructure and finance growth in a number of sectors.

LSE’s African onslaught in the past few years has already ignited interest from the continent’s leading firms, including Zimbabwean billionaire, Strive Masiyiwa’s Econet Wireless Zimbabwe and National Oil Corp of Kenya.

The two have indicated that they may listed in London.

Perhaps Econet had been inspired by LSE’s presentations during roadshows in Harare eight years ago.

In March Masiyiwa reassumed control of Botswana cellular firm, Mascom after spending US$300 million to snap a 53 percent stake previously held by MTN.

The transaction further consolidated his influence in Africa’s telecoms markets.

The LSE is banking on partnerships with African exchanges, including those in Nigeria and Kenya, for dual listings.

A final roadshow is planned for New York to showcase companies to African investors there as part of a United Nations initiative, says Adebayo.

There are 360 companies from 32 different countries across the continent, boasting an impressive average compound annual growth rate of 46 percent, up from 16 percent last year, according to Global Finance.

It says on average, each firm employs over 350 people, with an average compound annual employee growth rate of 25 percent.

Another very encouraging fact is that 23 percent of the senior executives of the featured companies are female, almost double compared to the 12 percent listed in last year’s report and nearly matching the proportion of women sitting on the boards of Fortune 500 companies.

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